I would like to wish all a very Merry Christamas.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Below are excerpts from an investigative report published by Sam Logan and Ashley Morse concerning the FARC and their international presence in Latin America. To read the full report click here.
FARC in Venezuela
"Several FARC camps exist inside Venezuela, where the Colombian insurgents stock up on supplies and rest. Human intelligence sources and satellite photography have also documented permanent FARC training camps and field clinics."
image taken from the Sam Logan and Ashley Morse report
Corruption among the military
"Corruption within the National Guard is comparable. In a report prepared by Jane's Information Group, a FARC guerrilla, who chose to remain anonymous, asserted that FARC colleagues would typically transport 1,000 to 1,500 kg of cocaine every two weeks from labs in Guainía and Vichada, in eastern Colombia. The cocaine would be taken by motorized canoe to the Venezuelan border at San Mariapo, on the eastern bank of the Orinoco River in the Venezuelan Amazonia. Upon arrival in Venezuelan territory they would make a payment to the National Guard before continuing on the transport route.
FARC, Venezuela, and the United States
"Agents with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and their Venezuelan counterparts in the National Guard have worked reasonably well together to combat drug trafficking over the years. But tensions heightened in 2004 when the DEA declared that some National Guard members were corrupt and involved in drug trafficking. The term "Sun Cartel" began to circulate; it referred to the insignia of general's rank, a sun, used in the Venezuelan National Guard instead of stars."
"According to Venezuela's National Anti-Drugs Office, Venezuelan authorities seized 31.2 tons of cocaine in 2004; only a year later they intercepted 58.4 tons of cocaine – representing an 87 percent increase. The 2005 seizure total is over ten times greater the 1990s average of 5 tons per year. That statistic, coupled with the estimate made by counter-narcotics experts that seizures generally represent only about 10 percent of total traffic through a country, demonstrate a significant increase in trafficking in the country. Apart from the rise in total tonnage seized, there is a decline in the number of people arrested for drug related offences. In 2005, 1,082 persons were detained, 10 percent fewer than in 2004 and barely one-tenth of the average number arrested yearly in the 1990s, which was around 10,000."
While Chavez may not endorse or promote the presence of the FARC in Venezuela it is the breeding of corruption, lawlessness, and institutional breakdown that has allowed the FARC to thrive in Venezuela. Based on this report and others like it, the DEA has a very difficult task in controlling narcotics trafficking through Venezuela.
It is apparent that if the DEA identifies and turns over the names of high ranking military or politicians to Venezuelan authorities, these individuals will inform Chavez that the "DEA is spying" on the government. Such as what happened in 2004. So then the question is, does Chavez know the truth? does he know military officials are helping to traffic drugs? If so, then it suggests that the one running the show is not Chavez but the military around him and that Chavez is blissfully ignorant of what is going on around him. So what hope does the DEA have of counter narcotics if the ones trafficking are the ones "collaborating" with the DEA?
Of course one should not forget a quote from senior National Assembly woman Iris Varela who represents the state of Tachira, coincidentally where the FARC have a strong presence, and is also the founder of MVR (Chavez's political party) in Tachira.
“A member of the guerrilla [FARC] is not a criminal, nor a terrorist, he’s a fighter” Feb. 1, 2005
Posted by KA at 8:50 PM
Monday, December 04, 2006
I spent most of the day thinking about the Venezuelan election out come and unlike some in the opposition I am at peace with the results, I respect them and do not doubt them. I have full confidence that the Rosales campaign was sufficiently prepared and organized enough to guarantee a transparent voting process unlike during the referendum of 2004. Like I said yesterday I do not believe Chavez is the right person to be leading Venezuela but 60% believe he is, so like in any democracy the majority rule. From the little bit I have read today some have accused Rosales as a sell out among other things. These are the people the new opposition must not surround itself with, they are the reason Chavez is in power, and they will be reason why Chavez will continue to stay. By the same token Chavez has to practice what he preaches, democracy and abiding by democratic principles.
Where do we go from here
As Rosales and Leopoldo Lopez stated, we regroup and continue the fight! This is politics it never starts and never ends it just morphs into different strategies and ideas. As someone mentioned in another blog we tried the top down approach, so the new strategy has to be the bottom up strategy. We know many mayors and governors around Venezuela are not popular even among Chavistas so lets go for their positions. The opposition has to learn that it can't cater to a narrow group of people, meaning it has to be composed of a diverse group with diverse opinions. To his credit this is probably the single best thing Rosales has done for the opposition, so please lets stop criticizing him, instead we should rally behind him. The oppositions time will come, the petrodollars can't last forever, and when it does we have to be ready to take advantage of it.
BTW, I'm waiting for more numbers to be released before I comment on the final results.
Posted by KA at 10:47 PM
Sunday, December 03, 2006
The numbers seem to be Chavez ~60% Rosales ~40%. Of course this blogger is upset about the results, but at least I know that this is the will of the majority of Venezuelans. I still dislike Chavez due to his lack of economic policies, division of society, human rights abuses, centralizing of the government, and general lack of sound government policies, and while the campaign wasn't fair and the process can be greatly improved at least the actual process appeared to lack any significant problems. I just hope Chavez realizes that Venezuela is not just 60% of the population, although I doubt it he hasn't seemed to care in the past.
From a personal perspective I think today ultimately killed the old political forces that happened to have jumped on the Rosales campaign band wagon. In the end the conceding defeat may have set into motion a new Venezuelan opposition that is free of its past, and thankfully Rosales said he would be willing to lead this fight in the streets. But most importantly he has shown himself as a true democrat.
Soon I will be posting on why I have been having such a hard time interpreting the numbers and why I think I got things so wrong.
Posted by KA at 10:20 PM
After waking up at 5am to drive to Chicago ( 2hr) I have finally made it back (tired and hungry). The voting went well and overall pretty smooth although we didn't open the voting booth till about 8:45 (45 min late) and we closed the voting at 2 pm. I must say I was a little disappointed about the turn out with only 353 people voting (~840 registered with about 630 voting during the referendum).
Since TeleSur, the government television station released numbers (violating the law), I will post the official numbers from Chicago:
Total votes cast: 353
Rosales : 326 - 92.3%
Chavez : 27 - 7.6%
null : 1 - 0.2%
Two voters could not vote because they had been removed from the voter list in Chicago.
I will post a couple of pictures soon....
Posted by KA at 7:21 PM
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I just spoke with family in Venezuela and they are reporting a tense calm ahead of the elections tomorrow, as reported by fellow bloggers. Although, they and everyone they have spoken to are excited and looking forward to Rosales winning (yes even those in the barrios) in the hope bringing the country back together, removing politics from daily life, etc...
News has been pretty spars with the media not reporting much if any thing of significance. Although I did find this report by the AP. Apparently, a Navy officer was detained this week (some time) because he was going to hand over names of military officials who would be willing to conspire against Chavez. To me this sounds like one 100+ (sorry I lost count) attempted coup against Chavez, and trying to stir things up and provoke a reaction from the opposition ahead of the elections.
Posted by KA at 5:03 PM
Friday, December 01, 2006
The moment of truth is nearly here and I for one am still torn as to what might happen on Sunday. Will Chavez or Rosales be the next president? Will it be transparent? Will there be violence? There are so many questions, but we will soon find out the answers.
So the big question is who is going to him. Well most polls say Chavez but these polls fail to take into account the fear factor (to vote against Chavez) that the government has created. If we look at the number of people at rallies than Rosales appears to be the favorite. Then we have abstention levels, either because they don't care or out of fear.
Something that I and many other seem to find strange is how the government seems to be reacting. Their behavior suggests they know something and are fearful of a Rosales win or is it they are trying to provoke Rosales and change their campaign message. What's worse is how government officials are contradicting themselves and military officials are making political statements, against Rosales of course.
Sadly, like many people I think violence is a very likely probability. If Rosales wins the radical factions aligned with Chavez will likely not take this well and are likely cause violence. If Chavez, Rosales may contest the win and will this bring out the military the citizens?
To be honest my my feeling is still that the election will be close but Chavez will squeak by and win the election. But then again who knows maybe Rosales will win by a wide margin. For Chavez a close win would not be good since it would undermine his ability to radicalize his "21 century socialism". For Rosales the beginning of his presidency may be a little rocky and some Chavez government members will try to undermine him and his presidency via social unrest.
Let's hope the electoral process is peaceful and transparent.
I most likely will not be blogging tomorrow Sat but I try to post something on Sunday evening/night since I will be busy voting, helping, and traveling.
Posted by KA at 11:55 PM